For Mish Laird, mum of three and founder of ‘The Cub & Calf Parents Hub’, the day that she signed the contracts and took possession of the premises that were to be the home of her exciting new venture, should have been one of the happiest days of her life. Tragically for her, the date was 23rd March 2020 – the day the UK was officially put into lockdown due to the Coronavirus outbreak.
For several months, Mish had shared her business journey - and the promise of a Parent Hub with an innovative play area and café - with the ever-growing social media fan base, who watched as she searched for the perfect location, found the ideal property and achieved full planning and praise from the local authorities.
She told followers; ‘I wanted to provide a safe space for new parents and carers where children can play but also where support, a friendly face, comfortable surroundings and good coffee can be found. Somewhere that both parents and children want to go to’, and she adds ‘The Cub & Calf Parent Hub will be a place for the modern family to feel supported and welcome. Weaning workshops, first aid courses, and sensory classes to name just a few will be run from the premises. We have support from so many of your favourite independent baby groups and brands based here on the Wirral and we can provide a clean, comfortable, purpose-built base in West Kirby for them to run their groups from’.
It’s little wonder then, that the promise of such a venue was very well received by the local community with a Facebook page attracting more than 1,300 followers before the doors even opened!
Having captured the support of the community, Mish was determined that a worldwide pandemic was not going to stop her in her tracks. Unfortunately, due to the timing of her property purchase, the ‘Cub & Calf Parent Hub’ was not eligible for any of the Government grants, and with the business falling into the sector least likely to be operational before July at the very earliest, Mish had to pull something very big out of the bag to ensure the survival of her business.
Fuelled with the confidence and determination that she would be providing a much-needed service, Mish decided to launch a crowdfunding page, inviting the local community to donate in return for rewards to be redeemed once the business officially opens. These amazing packages not only give parents and children the opportunity to be amongst the first to enjoy the products and services that will be available at the Cub & Calf, but also give families something to plan and look forward to in the not too distant future. They include such things as a child’s place on a magical afternoon tea party, exclusive hire of the venue for a child’s birthday party, the opportunity to have your name featured on the Cub & Calf Founders Wall of Love & Support, annual membership or, quite simply, a cup of tea and a slice of cake!
By the time the crowdfunding page launched on Saturday 16th May, Mish had been overwhelmed by the lovely messages of support and enquiries to be added to the mailing list for early access to the crowdfunding page. She has had a fabulous initial response, reaching 15% of her target within the first two days, however, she still has a long way to go – she has a month to reach her target of £10,000 with the extra incentive that Natwest Back Her Business will pledge a further donation if she reaches her target in time.
Mish is determined to win this battle, and her advice to anyone else looking to start a business is: ‘Don’t be afraid to ask your customers what they would like to see your business doing and providing for them. I have generated a good social media following before I have opened my doors by letting my customers have a say in what we are creating. Keep in mind that you won’t please everyone but by involving your customers you create a community feel and people get fully behind your ideas’.
She says of the Enterprise Hub at the Wirral Chamber; ‘When I started at the Enterprise Hub I had very little confidence as a woman in business. The programme gave me the confidence to believe I could create something for myself. Heidi and Paul are approachable and knowledgeable and I’ve not only learnt plenty from the workshops they run but enjoyed them and met some lovely other start-up businesses along the way’.
If you would like to support The Cub & Calf’s crowdfunding page, click here.
Or contact Mish for more details:
For more information on the support available through Enterprise Hub to help you to get your business off the ground contact EnterpriseHub@thewo.org.uk
Enterprise Hub is part funded by European Regional Development Fund and free to access for those living in the Liverpool City Region.